Mandalit del Barco

Nikkolas Smith calls himself an "artivist": an artist and an activist. For the past seven years, the Los Angeles-based concept artist has celebrated and mourned Black lives in his work. He says he's following the lead of the late singer Nina Simone, who advised it's the artist's duty to reflect the times.

"I'm always looking at what's going in the world and trying to reflect that," Smith says. "There are so many Black lives that have just been taken from this Earth. I've been trying to trying to process how that made me feel as a Black man."

Next year's Academy Awards ceremony will be postponed for two months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of February 28, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and ABC announced the televised ceremony will be held now on April 25.

"For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year," academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement.

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Feature films will no longer be able to double dip from both the Oscars and the Emmys, says the Television Academy. In a statement, the academy said it supports a recent decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors. That board decided to relax its rules for the 2021 Oscars in response to movie theaters being closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Here in Los Angeles yesterday, fans, friends and family of the late basketball star Kobe Bryant paid their respects at the Staples Center. NPR's Mandalit del Barco was at the memorial, and she filed this report.

The story of political player Luis Miranda and his famous son Lin-Manuel, who created and starred in Broadway musicals Hamilton and In the Heights, is the subject of a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past week and was just acquired by HBO. The film is called Siempre, Luis -- Miranda's sign off in his correspondences, and also a nod to his relentlessness in politics and as a champion for his talented son.

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I'm really happy we're finally talking about this on the program.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: I know you are. I know you are (laughter).

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Nigeria has submitted its first-ever Oscar entry, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says the film does not qualify for the international category. And that is sparking criticism. Here's NPR's Mandalit del Barco.

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Rick Baker created some of the most memorable movie monsters of the past four decades, including "An American Werewolf In London"...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, screaming).

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The new movie "Ad Astra" stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut traveling to Neptune in search of his missing father, who is played by Tommy Lee Jones.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AD ASTRA")

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In 1949, Charles and Ray Eames designed and built their home on a bluff overlooking the ocean in the Pacific Palisades. Features of their house and studio are now ubiquitous, but 70 years ago, they were revolutionary.

Charles was an architect; his wife, Ray, a painter. From their Los Angeles studio, they designed molded plywood office and lounge chairs that are now considered classics. The couple devised toys and made innovative films about math and computers for clients such as IBM and Boeing.

What's a Mexican restaurant without guacamole? What's a hipster cafe without avocado toast? Some restaurateurs may be contemplating these questions this summer as the price of avocados has spiked to almost double the price a year ago.

In Los Angeles' Boyle Heights neighborhood, El Tepeyac Cafe uses loads of avocados for its delicious homemade guacamole. In fact, it goes through about 50 boxes of the fruit every week. Operations manager Bernadette Thom says the restaurant has no choice but to pay more.

"La Cocina" means "the kitchen" in Spanish. It's also the name of a business incubator based in San Francisco's Mission District. Since it began in 2005, it's been helping local food entrepreneurs, many of whom are low-income immigrant women, develop their small businesses.

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The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a film inspired by the real-life story of Jimmie Fails. He tries to reclaim the Victorian-style house where his family once lived, in the now-gentrified Fillmore District. Through the movie, he dreams of what it could be again.

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Less than two weeks after John Singleton suffered a massive stroke, the trailblazing filmmaker has died in Los Angeles at the age of 51. The director, who made history with 1991's Boyz n the Hood as the youngest person and first African American ever nominated for a best director Oscar, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital after his family took him off life support.

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Here's what's up with docs: They're doing great at the box office.

At last month's Sundance Film Festival, Knock Down the House broke the festival's documentary sales record: reportedly $10 million to Netflix. The film follows the 2018 campaigns of four female congressional candidates, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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Hollywood began the awards season last night with some surprises at the Golden Globes. Many people expected "A Star Is Born" to sweep the awards. Instead, the top honors went to "Green Book" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." Here's NPR's Mandalit del Barco.

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In Southern California, wildfires have forced about 170,000 people to evacuate from Los Angeles and Ventura counties. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has been talking with people who had to flee the fire, and she has this report.

After dark on a recent Wednesday, well-known guerilla street artist Robbie Conal and two of his artist friends spent a few hours of political mischief on the streets of Los Angeles.

In the parking lot of Wendy's Donuts in Marina Del Rey, they spot their first target: a traffic light control box, perfectly sized for one of his new posters lampooning President Trump and his inner circle.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic's yearlong centennial celebration kicked off at the end of September, with a day-long street festival that spanned eight miles across the city.

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